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Tips for Being a Better Listener

Communication is the key to healthy relationships.  The less drama you have in your communicating, the happier you will be.  What that means is that you are not assuming things, generalizing, being disappointed when expectations aren’t met and living by “shoulds” or “ought tos.” Instead you are listening to your partner and expressing your needs and wants effectively.

How do you do that?

  • Good listening skills require you to respond to what you hear by saying, “It sounds like you feel…” and paraphrase what you think the person is feeling.  This indicates you heard and understood what was said.  Be open to the other person correcting you to make sure they are being heard properly.  This give and take dialogue opens the door to trust, clarity and enhanced mutual understanding.
  • Avoid interrupting when others are speaking and resist giving in when someone interrupts you.  Instead, say “Just a minute.  I haven’t finished yet.”
  • Don’t assume that others can read your mind.  You must ask for what you want, or you won’t get it. Men and women perceive the world differently, so don’t believe that he should know what you are thinking, feeling or wanting.
  • Learn to understand non-verbal cues to tap into feelings that are not expressed.Be empathetic, which means you understand how the other person feels and can respond appropriately.
  • Keep your sense of humor. Many times situations are so absurd that you can laugh about it, easing the tension and even anger.
  • Give yourself a time out if you are unable to remain fair and logical during a conflict. Always state a time and place to continue discussing the issue at hand.

Communication is a two way process that involves listening and receiving information.  Everyone deserves to be heard and not discounted for how they think and feel. Understand that the opinions, attitudes and judgments of one person may be different than yours, but it does not mean it is wrong.  To develop mutual understanding and respect, your insight and objectivity about how you communicate can go a long way to creating harmony.





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